Close

My Tips on Planning and Prioritizing: Managing Fundraising Teams

motivating team

This post is a complement to a podcast episode of Social Entrepreneur with Nathan A. Webster, of which I am a monthly contributor. To listen to the episode about this topic, click here.

When you hear the phrase fundraising planning – what do you think? Do you think about Excel spreadsheets that sit on the shelf, or documents with track changes with dates that span over eight months? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. A plan can serve as a roadmap for the direction you want to go, and can be something you refer to when your executive director asks you to do something a little out there (it can help you say no!). At the end of the day, it can – and should – be something that helps you stay sane.

As you start to put together your plan – use last year to benchmark, but don’t set your sights too low & get stuck on what’s happened in the past. Be reasonable but also imaginative. And make sure you have concrete goals. For each group you are looking to raise money from (i.e. individuals, grants, events), think about what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to raise more money? Increase your number of donors? Those goals aren’t necessarily the same, so get clear on what you want to do from the beginning.

So what if you’ve put together your plan and now you have to manage your staff fundraising team? It’s not an easy feat – getting everyone on your team on the same page. There are endless ways to fundraise, and there are always more people to ask for money, so as a team manager it’s your job to decide how to prioritize the work to be done. It’s also super important to balance what has to be done with what could be done – i.e. what is good for long term fundraising.

A couple of tips to do this:

  • Team retreats: In addition to your staff fundraising team, it’s good to include others as well, like your executive director, marketing team, or other volunteers working with you. Make sure to use time effectively – balance between strategic thinking and implementation. Make sure to do follow up! There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours at a retreat and then hearing nothing afterwards.
  • Regular check ins: Depending on your team, this could be with the whole team or one-on-one. It’s important to keep your staff working on what’s important, but still have the bigger picture in mind.

It’s all about open communication! But: what if you’re a team of one? Stay tuned for tips next time!

-N.C.

Autonomy’s Potential Pitfalls

As an intelligent, skilled, professional woman (if I do say so myself!), autonomy is something I highly value in the workplace. I’ve spent my time researching best practices surrounding my job, and I feel the experience I do have allows me to be able to be a perfectly capable worker. I love autonomy – I love being able to do tasks I want to do with the freedom to explore the elements that interest me or that I feel are best for the organization. I love supervisors who allow me that flexibility in my job.

As great as autonomy can be, too much autonomy can actually have negative side effects. Watch out for these additional factors the next time you find yourself working with a great amount of freedom.

  • As tough as it is to admit, managers usually know more than you. Bosses are higher on the food chain for a reason. Maybe they have more experience, more skills, or better insight. Make sure you check in with your boss on a regular basis to ensure you aren’t dropping the ball on anything. It will be better for your project in the long run!
  • Beautiful things happen when you get a team working together. There’s nothing quite like exchange of ideas. No matter who you’re working with, that person has a different perspective on things than you do. Although you don’t simply want to be in meetings all day, it is exciting and valuable to get others’ opinions on your projects.
  • Where’s the praise? Working autonomously can mean working in a vacuum, which can make it hard for your boss to truly understand the effort and work you are putting in to something. Make sure when you’re in this situation you can show the work you’ve done, so that you are properly recognized and appreciated. Because we all need a little praise sometimes!

In the long run, when you feel confident in your abilities, autonomy is one of the best elements of a perfect job. Just be sure to remember these elements too when you finally get there.

-N.C.